As the crowd jumped up and down to the sounds of ‘Chase the Sun’, Phil Taylor quietly exited the Wolves Civic stage. He will not return. Michael van Gerwen, the convincing 16-8 winner, will take on Peter Wright tonight as he looks for a third Grand Slam of Darts title in a row. Given his excellent record against Wright, the Dutchman will be the hot favourite.
Having promised to give van Gerwen “a caning”, Taylor’s spiky comments formed a rod for his own back. The world number one said post-match that a ticking-off from Taylor spurred him on to a 106.8 average and the win. Van Gerwen kicked off with two ton-plus checkouts in the opening four legs, but Taylor led 3-2 going into the first break. He would not lead again.
Van Gerwen was averaging close to 110 in the first 15 legs, and a superb 164 checkout saw his lead extend to 8-5. From then on, it was an uphill task for the six-time Grand Slam champion. Taylor was not threatening the van Gerwen throw, even when the Dutchman opened legs 16 and 18 with a 45. In the end, the 57 year-old’s frustrations showed. Attempting a bull-treble 7-bull route on 121 fell well short, and van Gerwen was in no mood to mess around.
If this is to be the last ever big stage meeting between the two titans, it will be a disappointing denouement. For van Gerwen now, the aim is to win the Grand Slam yet again. Peter Wright was excellent in an incredible comeback win over Gary Anderson, but has a long history of crumbling under van Gerwen pressure in big finals. ‘Mighty Mike’ is one step away from asserting his darting dominance once again.

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Author: Ed McCosh